This evening, ‘silence, exile and punning’: reassessing Flann O’Brien, novelist, Myles na gCopaleen, columnist, Brian O’Nolan, civil servant -- in a programme originally broadcast in 2011, the centenary year of the writer's birth.
If Joyce is the father and Beckett is the son, Flann is only of late being recognised as the ‘holy ghost in the machine’, according to Keith Hopper.
His Irish Times column Cruiskeen Lawn has been anthologised over the years but now that newspaper’s digital archive has been made accessible, the column is gaining attention as an important aspect of his work, even his masterwork, according to Carol Taaffe.
Vincent Woods is joined from Oxford by Keith Hopper, author of Flann O’Brien: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Postmodernist (Cork University Press); in Dublin by Carol Taaffe, author of Ireland Through the Looking-Glass: Flann O’Brien, Myles na gCopaleen and Irish Cultural Debate, also from Cork University Press, and from New York, by Jennika Baines, editor of Is It About A Bicycle? Flann O’Brien in the 21st Century (Four Courts Press).
We hear an extract from a Book On One production of At-Swim-Two-Birds, read by Garrett Keogh.
We also hear from novelist Kevin Barry on Flann O’Brien as an influence on his own work; Louis de Paor, head of Irish Studies at NUI Galway, on the importance of the author’s relationship with the Irish language and his genetic heritage in ‘manic pedantry’ and playwright Arthur Riordan, who cast O’Brien/ Myles as a character in Improbable Frequency and who has recently adapted his unfinished novel, Slattery’s Sago Saga, for the stage for Performance Corporation.
Poet Paul Muldoon reads his recent poem, Le Flaneur.
We visit Patricia McGovern-Creaney at 4 Avoca Terrace, Blackrock, Flann O’Brien’s old family home, which she has carefully restored over the years.
And Mícheal Ó Núalláin, the writer’s younger brother, remembers his brother’s kindness, shyness and what he regards as his greatest achievement: taking on the job of raising his younger siblings when their father died.
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Arts Tonight is produced by Aileen O'Meara for Digital Audio Productions